Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

See other formats

THE FAMINK OF 1837-38,                                         23
whole of the territories known at that time as the Western Provinces were
afflicted with a terrible drought.   The rabi crops of the then Sa'dadad district
were estimated by Mr. Boddam, the Collector, as below the average by more
than 209,000 mans; Maha-baa and Jalesar being the two parganas which Suf-
fered most.   But the famine of 1837-38 was a far greater calamity, and still
forms an epoch in native chronology under the name of ' the chaurdnawe? or
cthe 94'; 1894 being its date according to the Hindu era.   Though Mathur&
was not one of the districts most grievously afflicted, distress was still extreme,
as appears from the report submitted by the Commissioner, Mr. Hamilton,
after personal investigation.   About Raya3 Mat, and Maha-ban he found the
crops scanty, and the soil dry, and cultivated only in the immediate vicinity of
masonry wells.   About Mathura; the people were almost in despair from the
wells fast turning so brackish and salt as to destroy rather than refresh vege-
tation.   " All of the Aring and Gobardhaa parganas (he writes) which came
under my observation was an extensive arid waste, and for miles I rode over
ground which had been both ploughed and sown, but in which the seed had not
germinated and where there seemed no prospect of a harvest.   The cattle in
Aring were scarcely able to crawl, and they were collected in the village and
suffered to pull at the thatch, the people declaring it useless to drive them forth
to seek for pasture.   Emigration had -already commenced, and people of all
classes appeared to be suffering."
Of the famine of 1860-61 {commonly called the dtk-sera, from the pre-
valent bazar rate of eight sers only for the rupee) the following narrative was
recorded by Mr. Robertson, Officiating Collector :" Among prosperous agri-
culturists," he says, " about half the land usually brought under cultivation is
irrigated, and irrigated lands alone produce crops this year. But though only
half the crop procured in ordinary years was obtained by this class of cultiva-
tors, the high price of corn enabled them, while realizing considerable profits^
to meet the Government demand without much difficulty. The poorer class of
cultivators were, however, ruined, and with the poorest in the cities, taking
advantage of the position of Mathuri as one of the border famine tracts, they
abandoned the district in large numbers, chiefly towards the close of 1860.
Bather more than one-fourth of the agricultural emigrants have returned, and
the quiet, unmurmuring industry with which they have recommenced life is not
a less pleasing feature than the total absence of agrarian outrage during the
fauine. The greatest number of deaths from starvation occurred during the
first three months of 1861, when, the average per mensem was 497. During